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August 31, 2010

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New look, new future for 'Little Monster'

FIVE-YEAR-OLD Zhang Hao, born in a local farmer's family in suburban Jinshan District, is often called a "Little Monster" because of his face. But could it be that the future may turn out to be better for him?

Zhang was a victim of a serious household fire accident last year that left him with a seriously burnt face with tortuous mouth and nose. Because of his looks, he was denied admission to several kindergartens, with teachers worried that his looks may scare off other students.

As if this was not enough, Zhang has to live with another sad fact: He was abandoned by his mother who could not stand the pressure of raising him after the accident.

The fire tragedy happened in their kitchen when Zhang's grandfather was cooking. Zhang accidentally overturned a gas cylinder. Fire swallowed them in a second.

Although the duo managed to survive, they still faced long-term treatment. Amid the family's tight economic condition, the grandfather decided to give up his treatment to save the boy. Zhang's father could not manage to pay for the medical care, forcing the grandparents to sell off nearly all their valuables.

Great shock

It was during such trying times that Zhang's mother chose to disappear, leaving a message to the family that she would never return. The grandparents said this was a great shock for Zhang, and many times, the boy has cried and called for his mother in his dreams. "I miss my mum very, very much," said Zhang. "If I could only see her once or twice, it's enough for me."

Like children his age, Zhang also hopes to go to a kindergarten. Fortunately, this wish may well come true.

With help from the Shanghai Charity Foundation, Zhang will undergo the first of a series of plastic surgeries to repair his looks at a local hospital on September 8. Doctors said the whole operation will be divided into three phases, and the last phase will be performed when he is 16.

The first phase of the surgery will be done free.

The foundation also donated 25,000 yuan (US$3,675) for the boy. Officials said people who wish to help him can contact the foundation.

"On one hand, we hope that more people can lend a hand to the family; on the other, we hope that his mother can be back home," said Li Chen, an official with the foundation.


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